6 Great Ways To Manage Stress

November 21, 2017

 

Now-a-days life can be so fast paced and stressful it sometimes feels like it's so difficult to just slow down and take a breather. Many clients say to me that they just never find the time to relax as they are overwhelmed with everything that they need to do during the day. If you find that your life is like this then you have to ask yourself, "Do I not have time to spend 10 - 15 minutes a day (yes that's all it takes!) on something that is going to be so beneficial for my health and well-being?" Of course the answer has to be YES I DO as chronic stress can have such a detrimental effect on your body; have a read of my blog "Stress: How it affects your body" . The thing is the more you find time to relax the easier your life becomes as you start finding that you are able to tackle life's ups and downs a lot easier. There is an old Chinese proverb that goes "You can't stop the waves but you can learn to swim" and the best way to learn to swim is by finding time to relax.   

 

 

I have listed 6 great ways to manage your stress. Find one that is best for you and practice it every day. You may be surprised at what a difference it makes to your life.

  

1. Meditation

Meditation is the practice of attempting to keep your focus on one thing such as your breath, a mantra, a sound, a fixed object e.g. a candle etc. for a fixed amount of time. Your mind will keep wandering, because that’s what minds do, but the idea is to notice that it has wandered and bring it back to your breath (or whatever your chosen object is). The more you practice this the more profound it becomes. The more you do it the more you will start noticing that you are able to bring it in to your daily life so that when you notice that you are worrying about something you can calm yourself by bringing your focus back to your breath or other object. Have a read of my blog “How does meditation help reduce stress?”. You may find a meditation app helpful. Reportedly these are 5 of the best HeadspaceCalmBuddhifyThe Mindfulness App and Smiling Mind

  

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice where you learn to focus on the here and now rather than worrying about the past or the future etc. It is similar to meditation in that it involves a daily meditation, however it also includes exercises to bring mindfulness into your daily life. So this would involve, for example, eating your food mindfully which means that whilst you are eating all you do is eat your food; you don’t watch tv, you don’t read or check messages on your phone, you just eat, noticing all the colours, aromas and tastes etc. When you notice that your mind has wandered off into thinking and worrying you bring your focus back to your food; so you are using your food as an anchor to the here and now. It also includes other practices in compassion and gratitude. Have a read of my blog “What is mindfulness and how can it help you lead a stress free life?”.

I would also recommend you have a read of the the book “Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World”. This book describes what mindfulness is about and also goes through a 6 – 8 week programme with you. Finding a Mindfulness group to join would be really helpful also, you will most probably find that you are more likely to stick to the practice then.

 

3. Go for mindful relaxing walks

Get out in the countryside/seaside as often as you can to get plenty of fresh air into your lungs. When you go for walks do it mindfully; notice everything that you can hear, feel, smell, see, moment by moment. Every time you notice worrying thoughts creeping into your mind bring your focus back to everything you can hear, feel, smell, see etc. in the here and now. This way you will get more pleasure out of what you are experiencing during the walk and it will help to calm your mind.

 

4. Yoga

 

Yoga is of course a way to exercise your body however it is also a form of meditation. Whilst performing the yoga poses you are focusing on the movement of your physical body as well as your breath. Whilst your mind is focusing in this way there is no room for any busy thoughts of everyday life this is why it is a helpful way to calm your mind and manage stress.

 

5. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)

This is a relaxation method where you tense your muscles whilst breathing in and relax your muscles whilst breathing out. You do this with each group of muscles one by one, starting at your feet and working upwards through your body. Research has shown that if performed regularly that this can have a positive effect on reducing anxiety. Here is a link to a guided PMR.  

 

6. Breathing Exercises

There are lots of different breathing exercises that you can try but here are just 2.

 

Breathing exercise 1

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your legs and arms uncrossed.

  • Breathe in deeply into your abdomen and say to yourself "Breathe in relaxation".

  • Pause for 2 seconds and then breathe out whilst saying to yourself "Breathe out tension".

  • Pause for 2 seconds and again breathe in whilst saying to yourself "Breathe in relaxation".

  • Pause for 2 seconds and then breathe out whilst saying to yourself "Breathe out tension".

  • Whilst doing this you may find it helpful to identify areas in your body that are feeling tense and direct your breath into that area. As you breathe in think about what relaxation would look, feel or sound like. Whilst breathing out again imagine what tension would look, feel or sound like and imagine breathing it out into the air. 

  • Do this practice for 10 - 15 mins daily. 

 

Breathing exercise 2

  • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down with your legs and arms uncrossed.

  • Take a deep, slow breath into your abdomen whilst counting to 5.

  • Hold your breath to a count of 2.

  • Breathe out slowly to a count of 7 and let go of all tension.

  • Hold your breath to a count of 2.

  • Breathe in slowly to a count of 5.

  • Hold your breath to a count of 2.

  • Breathe out slowly to a count of 7 and let go of all tension.

  • And so on.

  • Do this for 10 - 15 minutes daily.

  • To invoke the relaxation response it helps if the out-breath is longer than the in-breath.

Here you will also find some guided breathing exercises on Youtube.

 

Youtube

There are plenty of guided meditations, breathing exercises and relaxation music that you can listen to on Youtube which I am sure you will find helpful. Find something that you enjoy listening to and listen regularly.For some relaxation time have a listen to my "Walking in the Forrest" guided visualisation.

 

Practice is the key

It is important to find something that you feel drawn to and to stick with it. It will most probably seem difficult at first and you may give up thinking that it’s not working but keep at it. You will find that perseverance will be of great benefit and you will soon start reaping the rewards. 

 

Check out my website to find out how else I can help.

Disclaimer: This article is for informtation only and you should always seek advice from your GP before embarking on any health programme. 

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